Starting a 3D printing project without a raft is a difficult but useful approach used in the 3D printing world. Many people are exploring the option due to the benefits. Apart from allowing you to save on material used in raft printing, it also helps you to reduce the time you’ll spend on post-processing, but how can you achieve this?
To 3D print without a raft, the first step is to maintain a stable temperature in the printing environment. You should also ensure an adequate print orientation, using a flatter surface for the printing bed where possible. You’ll need an adhesive to ensure the 3D print clings to the printing bed.
The rest of the article will cover everything you need to know about 3D printing without using rafts.
3D Print Rafts Explained
In 3D printing, the raft is a thick and flat structure fixed around the outer sides of 3D prints with the goal of ensuring better adhesion to the bed and delivering a more robust foundation for the overall printing project.
A raft is also useful as shields protecting your printing from the high temperature emitted from the plate while it works. The dimension on a raft is determined from the start of the painting process and will typically extend beyond the print by a few millimeters.
Newcomers to the 3D printing world may not understand the need for rafts because prints are meant to solidify immediately they are printed. However, in 3D printing, the primary layer printed typically needs a surface to stick to, hence the need for rafts.
Their wide surface area helps the printed material to adhere to the print bed better. They are useful for reducing the occurrence of warped or distorted prints. Rafts are also very useful because you can get rid of them easily once the print cools. It’s only there to support your print.
What’s the Process of 3D Printing Without a Raft?
There are some advantages to printing with rafts in 3D printing, but there are also advantages to not using them. First, you’ll save more filament material in the printing process, and you will spend less time on the process overall. Secondly, the bottom side of the print will look great because it was printed directly on the print bed instead of on a raft.
To get the right result when printing without a raft, however, you need to ensure you’re adopting the right approach. Here’s what you should do:
- Adopt an orientation where the flattest surface aligns neatly along the print bed.
- Input your temperature settings, including the bed temperature and the printing temperature.
- Cut down the impact of external factors like drafts to the barest minimum and all other factors that can lead to heat changes—such as walking past your printer while the job is in process.
- Use 3D print adhesives such as hairspray, glue, or other specialized 3D printing substances.
If you adequately implement solutions like the Creality Fireproof & Dustproof Enclosure for your 3D printing setup, you’ll get excellent results when printing without rafts. The structure creates a stable environment, which ensures a constant print temperature and reduces the negative impact of drafts. It’s also super easy to install.
Is a Raft Compulsory in 3D Printing?
It’s not compulsory to use any rafts in 3D printing. This is especially true in situations where you have print models that are adequately supported. You may also avoid using rafts if you split your models or use certain orientations. However, rafts come in handy if you’re dealing with models that don’t have a flat surface—such as a sphere—and other complex options.
Rafts are also used very regularly when working on prints using ABS filament. This is because this material has a high chance of warping. Using rafts when working with the filament fights warping and other issues like plate adhesion. However, if your project involves specific filaments that generally don’t warp and won’t have any issues with sticking to the bed, then you won’t need rafts.
Although rafts are useful in certain scenarios, they are not without their downsides.
- First, they increase the time you’ll spend on a printing project, and you may have to add some extra filament as well. The additional time may be largely inconsequential depending on the project, but you should be aware of it.
- Secondly, it’s not uncommon to find rafts that stick too tightly to the print and become very hard to remove—which can be remedied by increasing “Air Gap.”
You should use a raft for your print if all or some of the following scenarios apply to you:
- Your prints are tall or large
- The printing bed delivers poor adhesion
- Your prints constantly slip off during the printing process
- The print has a lot of support layouts
- The 3D design base is flimsy
The scenarios above are all legitimate warping and print fail concerns. If any of them apply to you, think about working with a raft. If the scenarios don’t apply to you, and you have a Cura soft slicer that doesn’t require the use of a raft, you don’t have to worry about using one.
Important Tips To Keep in Mind When 3D Printing Without Raft
- Use the right orientation. If you’d like to escape warping when printing with rafts, you have to start taking precautions even before you start the printing process. Don’t forget to key in the right orientation in the design software.
- Calibrate properly. You also have to get your calibration right when printing without using a raft. Adequate calibration reduces the chances of ending up with a deformed print. Are you using a glass print bed? You have to apply manual calibration by tweaking the screws on the platform. You can find the necessary tools in your Cura software slicer, and there is a detailed list of steps to follow to get through the calibration process.
- Avoid dirt and dust. These are factors that can lead to warped results in 3D printing without a raft. You need to ensure all old print remnants are wiped off properly before you start the new project.
- Mind the temperature. Temperature differences within the room can also lead to warping.
If you adhere to the recommendations above and end up with warped prints of prints that don’t stick to the print bed, you should consider applying some glue stick to the printing surface. One good product you can get for this purpose is Elmer’s Glue Stick (E579), which has helped many 3D printing enthusiasts, including newbies, avoid warping.
Where the glue stick doesn’t work, or if you can’t get it, you can use a similar solution such as a decent hairspray. One example of such hairspray is the L’Oreal Paris 8.25 Ounce product. The spray will deliver an even spread across the print bed, ensuring that your 3D prints are held down properly. You also don’t have to worry about dry time, as the spray dries quickly, even on glass beds.
3D printing rafts are useful in many projects, but there are scenarios that are not. The first thing you should do before settling for printing without a raft is to look at the project’s unique needs. If you’ll get better results with the raft, it makes more sense to use it.
For projects where using a raft is not efficient, the printing process without it can also be straightforward. You only need to cover all the basics, ensuring you eliminate all possible sources of warping and temperature changes, and also use adhesive to ensure the print sticks to the bed.